The functionality is very similar to that of any modern browser’s URL bar: when you start typing something in, the software will display several choices in a dropdown based on usage data.
Oh thank god. Or Google, either way.
The feature is dead simple: start typing in a contact’s name or email address, and a list of possible results will populate in a dropdown below the search bar. This is useful for saving time: if you know a lot of people named Michael, for example, just type “mich” and then hit the down arrow until you select the name you want. If you have a huge index of contacts, this can actually save you face, you might send fewer emails to the wrong people.
Predictive search in something like Gmail is particularly useful given that most people have a whole mess of data in their Gmail accounts. Let’s say you were communicating with someone whose name you can only remember part of a few years ago and you really need to find those old records. Just type in what you know, and the search feature might be able to pull up the name you wanted. This might sound farfetched, but being able to do this already helped me today.
What do we want to see? Even more. Give Google another six months and we hope to see Google expand this feature to cover even more ground. Bring it on Google, Gmail just keeps getting better.